Yuletide weekend

It was one of those lovely, lazy weekends. On Friday, we had friends over for Christmas dinner. I used candles and gold-painted pine-cones to create a table centrepiece, alongside fresh pine needles I picked from a tree that afternoon. To cover the table, I pulled out a vivid, striped red cloth that, the last time it left the cupboard, Mr B wore while dancing with the Masai in Kenya.

The menu was challenging, rather. Among the six of us, we had a pescatarian, a vegetarian, someone with an egg phobia, and a pregnant woman. That pretty much cancelled out meat, and any eggy and most cheesy meat substitutes. Not great for the remaining omnivores in the group. And I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of nut loaf.

In the end, I opted for individual savoury strudels with wild mushrooms and artichokes, and added prosciutto to the meat-eaters' strudels. Then we had some shaved roast turkey and ham on the side for the carnivores; cranberry sauce; herbed baked potatoes, carrots and pumpkin; corn on the cob; and green beans and roasted garlic tomatoes topped with toasted almonds. It was a kind of Christmas-meets-Thanksgiving, almost-vegan dinner.

Dessert was cognac-and-plum Christmas pudding (of course) with custard and fresh cream, a big bowl of mixed berries, my old classic peaches-and-cream pie on an almond base, and the lemon snowdrop cookies I made last week.

We finished our Christmas shopping on Saturday, I am proud to say, then I set up my desk in the lounge room to watch Harry Potter DVDs and Antiques Roadshow on TV while I made Christmas cards.

To make the cards, I cut out photocopies of the little partridge-in-a-pear-tree painting I finished last week, and pasted them onto slightly larger cardboard cut-outs. Inside each card, I stuck a slip of paper with a lovely little Chinese proverb: "Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come." Finally, I left a few fresh pine needles in the spine, in the hope that when the cards arrive in my friends' mailboxes, they will smell like Christmas.

I came very close to achieving my month-long goal of going cherry picking on Sunday, with a local orchard's promise of a sausage sizzle and homemade cherry ice cream almost winning Mr B over, but not quite. I'm still working on that. Instead, we we took the dog for a two-and-a-half hour walk around Adelaide, headed up to the pub for lunch, and had such a lazy afternoon at home that I honestly can't remember what else we did.

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